Redux Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

This work from home life has been both a blessing and a curse. On one hand I’ve been motivated to clean and organize just about everything in my house, and I’ve discovered books in boxes that I never would have read. I’ve adjusted my reading goal for the year twice thanks to all this down time. On the other hand, I feel less productive in my professional life because a large chunk of my job is physically handling art.

In the midst of my anxiety about what I am accomplishing professionally, I caught the first Hunger Games movie on TV and it inspired me to do a re-read of the entire series. Then I learned about A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. I’ll read that book eventually, although I’m not as excited about a book that centers around Snow, it will be nice to revisit the world for a bit.

Redux Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne CollinsThe Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Amazon|The Book Depository
Pages: 374
Series: The Hunger Games,
Published by Scholastic Press on September 14, 2008
Genres: Young Adult

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and once girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weight survival against humanity and life against love.

I didn’t expect the constant wave of nostalgia to hit me as I was reading. The Hunger Games Trilogy and Maria V. Snyder’s The Study Series were the first books I owned digitally. I read them on the bring of adult-hood, where I wasn’t quite ready to graduate college and find my place in the world. The only other series I’ve re-red countless times is The Enchanted Forest Chronicles which were the foods books I bought with my meager wages as a kid. I’m not always going to re-read books, I love the sense of a first time read. But I also did not expect to get so swept up in the feelings of loving this book for a second time.

So many things held up. Even with me knowing the ending! I actually thought I would give up after the first book, but Collins still had me wrapped up the suspense of it all. Katniss is still a great heroine. I remember a lot of reviews harping on her faults, but honestly she cares so deeply for those in her life and she’s a survivor.

I don’t ever remember focusing on the love triangle. Or that Gale was ever an option. Collins introduces him as the Katniss’ other half in her life. And while it’s clear Gale always had something for her, I still never got those vibes from her. Peeta was a means of survival that I think turned real. He’s one of a few people who experienced what she went through in the Games.

I did downgrade from my initial five star rating. I just have a higher bar for books now, and felt the four stars is usually as good as it gets for me with YA novels. Even if it is the “first” series that got me into GoodReads in the first place.

Redux Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne CollinsCatching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Amazon|The Book Depository
Pages: 391
Series: The Hunger Games,
Published by Scholastic Press on September 1, 2009
Genres: Young Adult

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol - a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.
Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest that she's afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she's not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can't prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying. Katniss is about to be tested as never before.

I remember liking Catching Fire. There was action, new characters, new nefarious government centric plots. The makings of a second/middle novel that would still have the familiar outline of a world I knew but with new tricks up its sleeves.

I picked up more details upon my second read. I still got frustrated with Haymitch, even though he couldn’t tell Katniss what he was really planning or she would give it away (girl does not have a poker face!). The Hunger Games this time around were a familiar foe, meant to lure us in. Make us comfortable in the surprises.

This book does so much to set up the trauma the Victors go through and the declining political climate in the Districts for Mockingjay. I don’t think Catching Fire get’s enough credit for how the plot is laid out. I find that most YA books, focus on the love story over plot. Collins approach seemed more uniform, where the relationship Katniss has with Peeta and Gale serve purposes beyond romance and contributed almost seamlessly into the political aspects of the plot.

Redux Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne CollinsMockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Amazon|The Book Depository
Pages: 390
Series: The Hunger Games,
Published by Scholastic Press on August 24, 2010

The final book in the ground-breaking HUNGER GAMES trilogy, this new foiled edition of MOCKINGJAY is available for a limited period of time. Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she's made it out of the bloody arena alive, she's still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what's worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss's family, not her friends, not the people of District 12.

I have a new appreciation for Mockingjay. I read a lot of reviews of others after I read this book back in 2010 and I don’t know if anyone got what they expected. As an adult reading this, my perspective was different. I appreciated what Collins was writing about: trauma. Katniss’ development in this book felt very right to me. Mockingjay is a book I read too fast, desperate to conclude the series and get closure. I read slower the second time around, really understanding the layout and motivation of the characters and plot. The pace moves a little slower than the first two books, spending more time in the pauses between the larger moments. I think this is where Collins excels the most in writing this series, is she slows the pace, so that if you pay attention you’ll see the cracks in the Capitol but also the cracks in the Resistance. And that really nothing is as it seems. 

The series remains at a solid four and a half stars. It’s still a series I’ll recommend time and time again.

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